Which is Better for Shipping Art – FedEx or UPS?

Posted by Benjamin Meskin on Dec 19, 2018 11:08:37 AM
Benjamin Meskin


The worldwide package delivery market is massive; with nearly 350 billion dollars expected to be spent on shipping by the year 2020. With so much money at stake, it may be surprising to learn FedEx and UPS nearly split the entire market share among private package delivery carriers.


Since both carriers provide better package tracking and speedier delivery than the government-run postal service, FedEx and UPS are your go-to delivery services when shipping a piece of art. Determining which service is better for shipping art comes down to a few key differences and a number of personal preferences.


Cost of Shipping


When it comes down to it, the cost of shipped paintings will determine your company’s profitability. Although many factors go into the total cost attributed to shipping, the starting point is always the carrier’s rate.


In almost all shipping scenarios, UPS is approximately $.50 - $1 more than FedEx. It does not matter if sending 3-day delivery or overnight, across town or internationally shipping. The two exceptions are early next-day delivery and overnight express by UPS where the difference is nominal.


Delivering to Households


Both package delivery carriers ship to individual households. UPS uses its entire ground fleet to make their deliveries Monday through Saturday. Residential deliveries shipped via FedEx are handled through the company’s home delivery service FedEx Home (formerly RPS) and are delivered Tuesday through Saturday. If a Monday delivery is necessary, UPS is your choice here.


Discounted Deliveries


If you are a volume dealer of art, it would be prudent to ask both FedEx and UPS for commercial volume discounts. Shipping multiple pieces of art on a regular basis may warrant some substantial savings. By comparison, the two companies are on par with one another offering between 6% and 20% off shipping rates. Unlike the USPS which is bound by their published rates, UPS and FedEx will assign you a personal representative who will identify your shipping needs and expectant volume to develop negotiated rates.


Drivers Defined


Every one of UPS’ drivers is an employee of the company. FedEx, on the other hand, uses independent contractors for ground and home deliveries. Only FedEx Express drivers are employees of the company.


This distinction may not have much impact on which carrier to use when shipping art. The lone exception may be times when FedEx has a dispute with a large subcontractor in your delivery area. Shipments could get delayed as the subcontractor may have the only trucks available in the area.


Holiday Surcharges


For the first time in 2017, we saw the major shipping companies impose a surcharge for holiday shipping. The following year during the month of August, both companies again announced surcharges for the holiday season, indicating this trend is likely to stay.


When shipping fine art, the surcharges can be especially critical to your bottom line. Many shipped pieces of art may be considered “large packages” by both UPS and FedEx. If your package fits this definition, expect an average $27 surcharge to apply, regardless of the company you choose. Each company will also impost an additional handling charge of about $3.20 if required as well.


Insurance Coverage


Each company automatically includes $100 of insurance per package. Such a low limit will not suffice if trying to insure artwork if lost or damaged. While each carrier can offer additional insurance, under their terms neither will be liable to pay more than the actual cash value of the contents of the shipment.


In addition, each shipper has a long list of liabilities not covered if your shipment is compromised. FedEx’s list, for example, has 21 specific statements of liabilities not assumed. It is because of the nature of the artwork, and the exclusionary nature of each carrier’s terms, that it is recommended you purchase third party insurance from a reputable insurer independent of who is shipping your artwork.


Retail Locations


Both FedEx and UPS offered scheduled pick-up services for an additional fee. If you are looking to avoid the fee or need assistance to package and ship artwork, both companies have plenty of retail locations. However, you will find UPS has substantially more UPS pack and ship locations than does FedEx. Both also rely on partnerships with other retail stores like Staples and Office Depot.


Tracking Services


Technology has advanced so far in the past decade; there is no longer a discernible advantage of one package delivery service over the other. FedEx and UPS both provide online tracking, email and text notifications, as well as mobile apps to track your shipment every step of the way. Cabrella’s multi carrier shipping software can help streamline the process, adding in the ability to easily file a claim should you need to.


Choosing a Carrier


Who you select as your courier of choice most likely will be a balance between cost per shipment and the level of personal service you receive at your local level. This makes the right company for your fine art shipment a matter of preference, as the differences are negligible. With third party insurance software Cabrella provides as an ecommerce shipping solution, all factors can be analyzed helping you find the which shipping company best suits your needs and the needs of the party on the receiving end.


Cabrella can save you up to 90% in shipping insurance rates. Click the button below to find get a quote on how much Cabrella could save you!





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